The Evergreen Park teachers union and the Dist. 124 school board have one more try at settling a new teachers’ contract before a threatened strike.
Both sides are scheduled to meet today (Monday) at 5 p.m. at Central Junior High School, following a community rally that is set to begin at 4:15 p.m.
If a contract agreement cannot be worked out, the district's teachers and paraprofessionals from Evergreen Park’s five public elementary schools are poised to go on strike tomorrow (Tuesday).
A teachers strike would affect 1,800 students in grades K-8.
Last week, teachers and paraprofessionals lined 95th Street waving signs and asking passing cars to honk their horns in support of their quest for a fair contract. The union and school district board met for five-and-half-hours but were unable to reach an agreement.
According to a summary of negotiations available on the D124 website, the school board increased its final offer in the three sticking points: salary, insurance and retirement. The school board maintains that the Evergreen Park Federation of Teachers union’s final offer remains unchanged since Aug. 30.
Illinois Federation of Teachers’ spokesman Dave Comerford said that “both sides weren’t even in the same ballpark” after talks broke up last Wednesday. The Evergreen Park Federation of Teachers is part of the IFT.
The school board summary for Sept. 26 was removed from the district’s website at the request of the federal mediator. However, in a summary statement from an earlier meeting on Sept. 24, the school board said that the union declined present a written counter proposal.
“Both parties exchanged supposals for the three areas of compensation, however no agreement was reached,” the D124 school board said in its statement.
Unlike the Chicago teachers’ strike, where CTU and CPS negotiated up to the 11th hour, the Evergreen Park teachers union and D124 did not meet for any negotiating sessions this weekend. The teachers’ union has maintained its willingness to meet with the school board’s negotiating team at any time.
Superintendent Dr. Robert Machak said previously that the district would not be opening any school buildings during a possible teachers’ strike.
The district has posted a suggested list of activities and resources for parents to help their students keep up in class and childcare resources in the event of a teachers’ work stoppage.
Meanwhile, the Evergreen Park teachers union posted on its Facebook page that members were busy over the weekend distributing flyers and galvanizing community support in its quest for a “fair” contract.
Trees and homes throughout the community were draped in blue ribbons showing their solidarity with the teachers union.
Said one parent we spoke too while photographing a tree wrapped in a blue ribbon: “The teachers are only asking to keep what they have.”
Check back with Patch for continuing coverage of Evergreen Park teacher contract negotiations.